Gerlich gasped into his oxygen mask as he switched out the depleted cylinder for a fresh one. The cool air flowing over his ragged lips had a calming effect, and within a few moments he was ready to continue his incantations.

“Are you sure you feel up to this?” the Aleayn buzzed. Gerlich nodded, and flipped the eyepiece that connected him to the Aleayn’s system down to cover his right eye.

The initial incantation was simple, an invocation of the spirits of the dead that were bound nearby. Muffled by his mask, Gerlich summoned those spirits in the form of luminescent wisps of spiritual energy that snaked and spiraled about his forearms as they rose from the ground. Anything of the lives they had once lived had long since faded away, leaving the spirits as little more than energies with no direction or purpose.

Next, the carefully carved conduit was set in the middle of the room, a human head hewn from living crystal. Gerlich began the incantation with one hand, and controlled the magnetic fields produced by the Aleayn with a control box gripped in the other.

“It’s not enough to infuse the energy into the object,” the Aleayn whispered. “You need to give it both new form and new function.”

“And that,” gasped Gerlich, “is the hard part.”

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